I’m definitely not one of those women who can survive on a super-streamlined capsule wardrobe. I mean – don’t get me wrong – I absolutely love the idea of it and devour Capsule Wardrobe videos on Youtube like I do Cream Eggs… but in practice? Nope, this gal likes options – lots of options – and is still clinging on hard to that Original Rudeboys T Shirt she bought in Topman back in 2004 (even though it’s literally falling apart and has gaping holes in the armpits…). I like a full wardrobe (I used to work in a costume warehouse, go figure!) – I like to have lots of options and I love rediscovering old favourites. But, I’m a bit of a hoarder, and for that reason I have to make sure I do a little bit of a wardrobe audit at the start of every season just to see exactly what I’ve got and what I need to add (and, more importantly, what I don’t need to add!). Just like everyone else right now, I’m also trying to think about sustainability when it comes to fashion, my personal style and I’m trying really hard to only buy items that suit me, that I need and ones that I know I’m going to wear and love until they fall off me in pieces!
This post is basically a step by step guide on how you can start doing an audit yourself, with a few handy print outs to help you keep track along the way 🙂
The basic idea behind the audit is to transition your wardrobe from Autumn/Winter to Spring/Summer and back again in a way that helps you see what you’ve got hanging up, what needs to go (does not spark joy!) and any gaps that need filling. By doing it, you get a better idea of your personal uniform – the styles and colours you reach for again and again – and will be better equipped to stop yourself from spending needlessly each season on items you a) Don’t need, b) Don’t suit you, and c) Just won’t wear.
The best time to do it is usually a month or two into the new season (the end of September and the beginning of April seem to work well) because by that time the weather should have started to shift, you’ll have seen enough of the new season trends to know exactly what new bits and bobs you fancy adding, and you’ll still have time to pick up some old season bargains in the sales to fill in any gaps! Make a note in your diary or on your phone and block out one whole day to focus completely on your audit.
Step One: Take Everything Out
Right, let’s get this show on the road. Before you can get sorting, you need to get everything out. In true Marie Kondo style that basically means pulling everything out of your wardrobe and throwing it into a big pile on your bed or on the floor. You need to see what you’re dealing with and then work on each item individually.
Step Two: Buh-bye Autumn/Winter!
Now it’s time to get sorting. A massive part of a new season audit involves reflecting on the one that’s just finished. As you sift through your pile of clothes, shoes and accessories think about the items you kept reaching for again and again. What items did you wear to death? Which outfits worked? Which ones didn’t? What items didn’t you wear once? What kind of items are missing?
Begin sorting the clothes into three piles:
- Love it, keeping it – “Never wanna give you up, Never wanna say goodbye!”
- Maybe – for when you’re on the fence…
- Ditch it – “Thank you, next!”
Be as ruthless as you can! Donate or Depop everything you’ve fallen out of love with and doesn’t fit anymore, and recycle any items that are damaged (that might even mean turning them into something else; all my old t shirts usually retire and turn into pyjamas at some point!).
“Thank You, Next”
As you’re going through, start making a shopping list of any items you need to replace, items that you need (I really need a black pair of jeans… I could do with a jacket to wear when I’m walking the dog… I don’t have a smart pair of boots to wear out…) and any trend items that you would want to add. You’re going to pack this list away with your winter wardrobe; some of the items on the replace and need lists you might be able to pick up the sales immediately (if so, highlight and then tick them off the list!), and as for the trend pieces you’ve been eyeing up – you’re going to shelf the urge for a while. When autumn swings back around you can re-evaluate where you are with them and have a handy shopping list ready to go. 🙂
“Love it, Keeping it”
Pay close attention to your keep pile because it’s going to give you a really good idea of what your ideal wardrobe is going to look like. Look at the colours and styles you keep reaching for time and time again – maybe you’re a confirmed “Jeans and a Nice Top” kind of girl like me, maybe you’ve got a thing for tailoring and maybe it just turns out that your wardrobe is as black as your soul. That’s great! At least now you know what works for you and what’s worth spending money on. 🙂
Once you’ve finished sorting, go back to your maybe pile and see if you’ve changed your mind. Maybe there’s an item in there that might be quite useful, maybe it’s a transition piece that could work during either season, maybe you’ve found a better version in your love it pile and no longer need it, or maybe you’re still on the fence. That’s okay! Throw it into your keep pile and you never know, you might fall in love with it all over again and be glad you held on.
Step Three: Pack it Away
Hopefully now you’ve whittled everything down to just two piles. Bag up everything you’re getting rid of (depending whether you’re donating, depop-ping or recycling) and then turn your attention to your keep pile. Time to pack it away ready for next year! I’m lucky, my bed’s got secret storage underneath it so I like to pack away last season’s clothes into vacuum bags (love them!) and keep them stowed away and out of sight – and more importantly, protected from dust, damp and moths. For extra credit, pop them all in the wash before you store them – and don’t forget to pack them with something to keep them smelling fresh. Don’t forget to add in your shopping list – you’ll need it next season! 😉
Storage Tips and Tricks…
- You know those little scent boosters you can throw in the washing machine? Pour some into a small organza bag and then pack away with your clothes to keep them smelling fresh! (I also like to hang a few in my current wardrobe to keep my shirts smelling nice) 🙂
- Similarly, you can stuff a couple of dryer sheets into your shoes to soak up any sweat and keep them smelling fresh.
- Consider wrapping delicate fabrics like silk and occasion-wear in tissue paper before storing – or use an old pillowcase!
- Spruce up your shoes before putting them back in their box. Clean off any mud, polish them and get the heels mended so they’re ready to march next season!
- Make sure you throw in some protection from moths. Moth balls are toxic to pets and children, so consider using cedar wood instead.
Step Four: Hello Spring/Summer!
Right! Time to get your summer garb out of storage! Finally! Hopefully you’ve packed it all away neatly and all it needs is a bit of a steam to bring it back to life. Lay everything out on your bed and see what you’ve got. If you already performed an audit at the start of autumn, then you’ll be ready to go; if not then swing back to step two and get sorting! As you’re reacquainting yourself with your spring/summer wardrobe there might be a bit of extra streamlining to do. Are there any items you were unsure about last year that you can comfortably make a decision on now? Is there anything that doesn’t fit? Hopefully everything’s come out looking brand new, but sometimes there might be an item that doesn’t survive. I had a red faux-leather jacket a long time ago and had to chuck it because it literally just disintegrated in storage!
Step Five: Outfits
Time to get your wardrobe working for you! Think about how you spend your time on a weekly basis. List three activities that you tend to do every single week, including work and then try to come up with three outfits for each of those activities using the clothes you’ve got in front of you – ideally for three weather scenarios (dry, wet and changeable). If you’ve got an instax camera, why not snap some photos of these outfits? Or you could print out some old Instagram snaps of outfits that worked, or just list the items!
As you’re building your outfits, you might find another opportunity to streamline. Are there any items that just don’t fit in with your day to day uniforms? Think about whether it’s time to toss ’em! Keep your shopping list close as you might find there are a couple of items you’d like to add to it.
Keep these outfit lists handy somewhere in your current wardrobe (maybe clipped to hanger on their own, or tacked up on the doors), then pack them away with your wardrobe when the season ends – they might come in handy next year!
Step Six: What’s Missing?
Time to refer to that handy shopping list you made at the end of last season. You might find that it’s all still applicable and you’re still lusting after that rattan bag you had your eye on last summer, or maybe you’ll just have a good old laugh, wonder what the hell you were thinking and be glad you didn’t splurge on something you were never going to wear! Deal with the “Want” and “Replace” lists first – cross out anything that doesn’t apply and tick the items that do!
Next move on to “Need” list. Look for gaps in your uniforms; maybe you don’t have a spring jacket, or threw out your only pair of sandals last year. Jot these items down! Then, you’re ready to set yourself a budget and shop!
(*If you’re in Cardiff then don’t forget to sign up for St Davids Shopping Centre’s Big Night Out – which is basically a student lock in with tonnes of discounts and treats… but you don’t have to be a student, win! It’s completely free to sign up and it’ll be the perfect opportunity to go refresh your wardrobe!) 🙂
Step Seven: Organise!
Phew! Home stretch! After all that sorting, it’s time to (make a cup of tea first, and then) put everything back into your wardrobe in an easy to see, easy to access way. Think about arranging items in some kind of order – whether that’s by colour, by item or by outfit. Whatever works for you!
Tips and Tricks for Organising your Wardrobe…
- Make sure you’re using the right hanger for each item. Invest in some hard-wearing wooden ones for heavy items like coats, felt-lined ones for delicate items and grippers for trousers and skirts.
- Don’t forget your cedar balls to keep those moths away, and scent boosters to keep things fresh!
- The top shelf of my cupboard gets really messy – use dividers to keep those piles from toppling over.
- Get crafty when it comes to storing accessories. For example, office filing boxes are great for storing purses and clutch bags, and hooks are great for handbags.
- Use ring-pulls to double up hangers and arrange outfits together.
And that’s it! Happy auditing! 🙂
If you fancy giving a wardrobe audit a go then you can download my Audit Shopping List here, and the Uniforms List here. Come on them, come clean! How many pairs of jeans/t shirts are bashing around at the back of your cupboard? 😉